It’s a cleanser that should never be stopped by intentional nerves. It will take an early goal and a dominant performance to stop them.
Jürgen Klinsmann’s men’s national team traveled to Shenzhen on Monday to face China in the second match of Group C of the 2026 FIFA World Cup North America, the second round of Asian qualifying.
Shenzhen is the second-largest metropolitan city in southern China after Guangzhou and is close to Hong Kong, which is known for its image of reform and opening up. While the team’s arrival was greeted by a large number of Chinese fans who love European soccer, a cautious approach is needed on the pitch as it is a 180-degree change.레모나토토 도메인
The Chinese return to Shenzhen with renewed vigor. They returned with a 2-1 victory over Thailand on Nov. 16. It’s a win that’s all the more important given Thailand’s recent struggles.
On paper, it wasn’t an overwhelming performance. They were outplayed in key offensive metrics, including 38%-62% ball possession, 8-17 shots on goal, 2-4 shots on target, 5-7 corner kicks, and 304-514 passes. However, China won despite playing rough and taking fouls and cautions. They were outshot 17-5 in fouls and 4-0 in cautions.
In particular, Zhang Linfeng (Shanghai Haigang), the center of the flat-3 (three-back) defense, collected a caution in the first 19 minutes. The Thai took advantage of his slightly smaller frame to press and foul his opponent.
In his previous ACL appearances against Jeonbuk Hyundai and FC Seoul, Zhang Linfeng used his elbows to draw fouls. As a challenging defender, he needs to be used appropriately by Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur) and Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton), who have good speed, or Lee Jae-sung (Mainz 05) and Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain), who create space and move around actively.
When the game is tight, the bench is not immune to nerves. In the 40th minute of the second half of the 2-1 win over Thailand, reserve goalkeeper Wang Daley (Shandong Taishan) was warned for arguing on the bench.
This shouldn’t be a problem if they can keep a clean sheet. In the January 2019 Asian Cup in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hwang Eui-jo (Norwich City) opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the first 12 minutes. Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur) was tripped in the box as he beat a defender to the ball and converted the penalty.
Of course, it wasn’t an easy game. Hwang Ui-jo played through a cut on his neck from a rough move by an opponent during a ball contest. Still, he played to the best of his ability, including a shot that hit the post. In the sixth minute of the second half, Son Heung-min’s corner kick was headed in by Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich).
Interestingly, Kim also scored in the East Asian Football Confederation (EAFF) E-1 Championship in Busan in December 2019, finding the back of the net in the 13th minute to help Korea win 1-0. The goal came in the 12th minute of the first half. Joo Se-jong (Daejeon Hana Citizen) headed home a corner kick from Kim Min-jae.
At last year’s E-1 Championship in Nagoya, Japan, Joo Cheon-je’s own goal plus goals from Kwon Chang-hoon (Suwon Samsung) and Cho Kyu-sung (Meatwillan) led to a 3-0 victory. If they can get their game right and show the patience to break down tight defenses like they did against Singapore, they can break the hearts of Chinese fans. They will also have to wipe away the pain of the final qualifier for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, a 0-1 loss in Changsha, China, in March 2017, which was dubbed the “Changsha Disaster.
All but Son Heung-min and Lee Sun-min (Gwangju FC) have traveled to China before, either for the national team or with ACLs. If they are mentally prepared and don’t let China’s provocations get the better of them, they will have the strength to take the initiative.